Exercise has been shown to help prevent chronic disease, lengthen life, fend off dementia, slow cognitive decline, and provide many other health benefits.
However, the quantity of sleep you get may be just as crucial, at least in terms of the advantages of exercise and how well your brain functions as you age.
According to a recent study, those who engage in more frequent, more intense physical activity and who sleep fewer than six hours each night on average experience general cognitive impairment more quickly than those who exercise rarely.
Lead author Dr. Mikaela Bloomberg, a research fellow at the Institute of Epidemiology & Health Care at University College London, said that her study “suggests that getting enough sleep may be required for us to get the full cognitive benefits of physical activity.”
She noted in a statement that the study “shows how important it is to consider sleep and physical activity together when thinking about cognitive health.”
In the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing, a longitudinal study of people over 50 financed by the UK government and the US National Institute on Aging, researchers monitored over 9,000 participants for more than 10 years.
Participants get a follow-up interview and cognitive testing every two years in addition to an initial workup. The research, which was published on Wednesday in The Lancet Healthy Longevity journal, did not include anybody who had been diagnosed with dementia or who had test results that indicated cognitive deterioration.
The latest study confirmed findings from other studies and indicated that people who engaged in more physical activity and slept between six and eight hours each night had superior cognitive function as they aged.
Over time, being less physically active and getting inadequate sleep were both independently linked to worse cognitive function. Additionally, a shorter amount of sleep each night was connected to a quicker pace of cognitive deterioration over time.
In comparison to the least active group, the most physically active group in the research had greater levels of education and affluence, was younger and thinner at baseline, was married or in a relationship, and was less likely to smoke, drink, or suffer from chronic depression or sickness.